Tarean Folston didn’t say he never thought about it.
Because it would defy human nature for the running back to not think about what could be today if his right knee didn’t give out on the third carry against Texas last season.
Stay healthy and Folston probably runs for 1,000-plus yards behind Ronnie Stanley and Nick Martin. Nobody knows the steal the Irish got in Josh Adams. Few understand the explosiveness of C.J. Prosise. And if Folston had that kind of season behind that kind of offensive line, he’s probably in an NFL training camp right now instead of sweating at Culver Academies.
“I would say a lot of people in my situation would think that, but you know that's behind me,” Folston said. “I’m ready to get this season kicked off and get this thing rocking and rolling.”
Folston opened training camp on Saturday at a self-assessed 100 percent and without the green jersey he wore during he Blue-Gold Game. That’s how he exited Notre Dame Stadium four months ago as a mandatory no-contact athlete playing a full-contact position.
Since, Folston said he’s added about 15 pounds and he hopes to play his senior year about 10 pounds heavier than when his junior season ended against the Longhorns. Folston said he’s 220 pounds now. He said he tapped out at about 206 pounds in the opener last September.
Folston’s goal is to be at about 7-8 percent body fat on top of that frame. He said that’s about the NFL average for running backs.
“I was definitely light last year, the year before last,” Folston said. “I felt that caused a lot more injuries to myself. Me being light, taking on a lot more banging, me being a smaller guy. So I want to go on this season with a bigger body and keep that weight and maintain it at a good weight.”
“I gotta eat better. I'm eating better now. For me to have a bigger body, with more hits it just doesn't affect me more in the long run.”
Folston’s high mark for carries came during his sophomore year when he put up 175 rushes for 889 yards and six touchdowns. He went over 100 yards four times that season including 120 yards in the loss at Florida State. He’s also been dogged by hamstring/groin injuries during his career before that ACL tear.
Now healthy and aware this is probably it for his college career (technically, Folston could apply for a fifth year) the running back’s commitment to health should pay this fall.
Folston is certainly working like an athlete down to his final run. The small stuff is to be savored now, even the lack of air conditioning at Culver. Sort of.
“Beautiful place, beautiful everything, but not he heat,” Folston said. “That sucks. But we gotta go through it.
“You get a great breeze at night. We got fans. We gotta live with it. I just like that we've got to come together.”
Folston admitted that in past seasons he didn’t go hard in practice or even look forward to this part of football. He said that’s changed. Some of that is because Folston won’t do this again. Some of this is because Folston hasn’t done this in almost a year.
“Being out sitting and watching your teammates fight against other people, man, it's hard,” Folston said. “But it just made me a better person off the field, looking at things from different perspectives.
“I'm not saying I never went hard, it just makes you go harder. When you're out here doing things that you love and it's fun to you, you're always gonna go hard and I feel like I'm trying to bring some energy to people that may not have energy that play or something like that. So I mean that's just how it is right now.”